One of the questions that I am asked most often by the hobbiest wanting to break into the performing for cash circuit is, “How do I get the gigs?” We’ll assume that you’ve bypassed the point of putting your show together, and learning your part as an entertainer and dealing with the public. While lots of theory exists, I will share the methods that have worked well for me.
I. Word of Mouth
The thought of a free gig may erk most people. There are lots of places and venues where you can turn a trick that will lead to paying gigs. Assistated living facilities, hospitals, libraries, places of worship and charity events are examples of places where you begin your quest for living the magic biz. If you’re likable and your magic is good, you will almost always get calls for paying jobs from working a free venue. This is how I started working professionally at the age of nine. An old age home, as they were called back then, paved the way for many private parties.
II. Business Cards
These are your most powerful weapon! You never want to be without a pile of these cards in your posession. You never know who you’re going to meet at any time. I’ve seen cards that were so busy with cool graphics and unreadable font that I got dizzy from attempting to read them! I always put stock ino the KISS theory…Keep It Simple Stupid! A small readable graphic or logo is fine. A tagline or stage name is fine. Your name, phone number, email and website is mandatory; your address optional. Too much information is not necessary for a calling card. Your website, as you will learn is an extention of your business card.
This is the extention of your business card! This is the place where you have the ability to really sell. It can be done very right or very wrong. In most cases, I’ve seen the very very wrong. Yes…two verys; it was not a type-o!
Rules to guide you when building a site…
1. Purchase a domain and server space. Do not use a GeoCities type of free site site. It simply is far from professional.
2. Keep you URL simple. Try not to hypenate or get something so cryptic that no one will get to it.
3. If you cannot afford a web designer, their are many programs on the market, some that are free that will maintain a professional look and feel of your site. These are easy to maintain without the knowlege of html or coding.
4. Do not use heavy graphics, large flash files, or music on your site. It’s passe and simply annoying.
5. Navigation should be made easy.
6. Use only images that are shot properly and edited the correct way for use on the Internet.
7. Same applies to video. Flash Video is a format that every OS and browser can play. Other accepted formats for video are WMV, RM, QUICKTIME. AVI’S and MPEGS simply take up too much space and bandwidth.
8. Create your site like a resume or outline of yourself. The essentials should be a nice looking home page, biography, media (images and video), programs or service packages, your contact information.
IV. Agents & Agencies
There are many entertainment agencies in your local area that put entertainers in touch with clients and vise-versa. These agencies will either offer you an outright fee or take a percentage of what you charge. The booking average should be between 10-15% if the deal is based upon your fees.
V. Local Rag Papers
Every town has a local paper. Ads are usually cost effective. A simple well worded ad can generate lots of income. You can also get cheaper rates if you contract your ad for a lobger period of time.
VI. Yellow Pages
Either on-line or in the big yellow book will work for you! It’s not cheap, but it won’t break the bank either.
I have a set of magic friends who at one time or anothr can’t make a gig. These guys will pass one gig to another. Though they’re friends, they each take a percentage of the fee. This works very well for them!
VIII. Networking Within Other Entainment Avenues
Other entertainment avenues include disc jockeys, bands, jugglers, gaming companies, photographers, and the like. Where there’s a party, there’s entertainment. Networking with dj’s, etc. has always worked well. The same event where one type of service is needed will almost always have the use for another service.